Tom Leppard

Renfrew Fellow
McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Contact email address:
Year Joined Homerton: 

Tom is an archaeologist interested in the transition from non-hierarchical human communities, the pathways along which this transition was achieved, and variability in forms of Holocene social organization.  More specifically, his research addresses the (somewhat counter-intuitive) emergence of social complexity in environments which might be expected to discourage such emergence, particularly on islands in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Pacific.  He is especially interested in how small-scale and short-term adaptive strategies can drive unintended social and ecological change at much larger scales.  Tom currently co-directs fieldwork which informs this research in Sardinia and in Micronesia.

Research Interests: 

Complex societies; archaeology of islands; dynamics/ecological consequences of hominin dispersal; biogeography; spatial analysis; palaeodemography; archaeological theory.


Ph.D.2013 (Brown); M.A. 2007 (Sheffield); M.A. Hons 2006 (St Andrews)


Braje, Todd, Thomas P. Leppard, Scott M. Fitzpatrick, and John M. Erlandson. 2017. Archaeology, historical ecology and anthropogenic island ecosystems. Environmental Conservation 44(3):286-297.

 Leppard, Thomas P. and Curtis Runnels. 2017. Maritime hominin dispersals in the Pleistocene: advancing the debate. Antiquity 356:510-519.

Cherry, John F. and Thomas P. Leppard. 2017. Patterning and its causation in the pre-Neolithic colonization of the Mediterranean islands (Late Pleistocene to Early Holocene). Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 12: DOI: 10.1080/15564894.2016.1276489.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2016.  Between deterministic and random process in prehistoric Pacific island abandonment. Journal of Pacific Archaeology 7(2):20-25.

Leppard, Thomas P. and Suzanne E. Pilaar Birch. Forthcoming 2016.  The insular ecology and palaeoenvironmental impacts of the domestic goat (Capra hircus) in Mediterranean Neolithization.  In Géoarchéologie des îles de la Méditerranée, edited by M. Ghilardi, S. Fachard, L. Lespez, F. Leandri and C. Bressy-Leandri. Paris: CNRS Editions Alpha.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2015. Passive dispersal versus strategic dispersal in island colonization by hominins. Current Anthropology 56(4):590-595.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2015. Adaptive responses to demographic fragility: Mitigating stochastic effects in early island colonization. Human Ecology 43(5):721-734.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2015. The evolution of modern behaviour and its implications for maritime dispersal during the Palaeolithic. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 25(4):829-846.

Cherry, John F. and Thomas P. Leppard. 2015. Experimental archaeology and the earliest seagoing: The limitations of inference. World Archaeology 47(5):740-755.

Cherry, John F., Krysta Ryzewski, Thomas P. Leppard, and Emanuela Bocancea. 2015. Diachronic, multi-scalar landscape archaeology on Montserrat: Opportunities and challenges. In The Proceedings of the 25th Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, edited by L. de Olmo. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqeña, 395-413.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2014. Modeling the impacts of Mediterranean island colonization by archaic hominins: The likelihood of an insular Lower Palaeolithic. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27(2):231-254.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2014. Response: The elusive insular Lower Palaeolithic and the problem of intentionality. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27(2):275-278.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2014. Current Mediterranean island and coastal archaeology: Detailing the fragile and the resilient. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 9(3):436-439.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2014. Mobility and migration in the Early Neolithic of the Mediterranean: Questions of motivation and mechanism. World Archaeology 46(4):484-501.

Leppard, Thomas P. 2014. Similarity and diversity in the prehistoric colonization of islands and coasts by food-producing communities. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 9(1):1-15.

Cherry, John F. and Thomas P. Leppard. 2014. A little history of Mediterranean island prehistory. In The Cambridge prehistory of the Bronze Age – Iron Age Mediterranean, edited by A.B. Knapp and P. van Dommelen. Cambridge: CUP, 10-24.

Cherry, John F., Thomas P. Leppard, and Krysta Ryzewski. 2014. The prehistory of Montserrat: A synthesis and an update. In The Proceedings of the 24th Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology, edited by B. Bérard. Martinique: IACA, 266-276.

Cherry, John F., Krysta Ryzewski, and Thomas P. Leppard. 2012. Multi-period landscape survey and site risk assessment on Montserrat, West Indies. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology 7(2):282-302.

Cherry, John F., Krysta Ryzewski, Thomas P. Leppard, and Emanuela Bocancea. 2012. The earliest phase of settlement in the eastern Caribbean: New evidence from Montserrat. Antiquity 86: Project Gallery.